EPA Drinking Water Preliminary Regulatory Determination on Perchlorate

November 5, 2008

Administrator Stephen L. Johnson
Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency
2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20460

RE: Drinking Water: Preliminary Regulatory Determination on Perchlorate,
Federal Register October 10, 2008, (73 FR 60262) (FRL-8727-6)
Docket Number: EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0692

Dear Mr. Stephen Johnson,

The Pacific Institute would like to formally submit the following comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Drinking Water Preliminary Regulatory Determination on Perchlorate. After reviewing the Preliminary Determination and relevant literature, we do not agree with the EPA’s determination that regulating perchlorate presents no “meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems.” While we recognize that the science upon which the determination is based has been contested, our comments address a number of further concerns, including the protection of vulnerable populations; the impacts that the determination will have on remediation efforts and future monitoring; and the criteria for what is considered to be a “meaningful opportunity” for protection of public health.

Concern raised by the Children’s Health Advisory Committee regarding the unique levels of exposure and developmental impacts of perchlorate on breast-fed infants were not addressed, and the reference dose1 upon which the EPA based the preliminary decision may not adequately protect the health of breast-fed infants. While the health risk posed by perchlorate to fetuses of pregnant women with hypothyroidism was considered in the preliminary regulatory determination, we are concerned that the health risk to breast-fed infants was not adequately addressed.

Recommendations provided by the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC) in its March 8, 2006 letter have not been appropriately adopted, which is especially disconcerting in light of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO )recent finding that the EPA has routinely failed to respond to this committee’s findings. Despite the EPA’s recognition that children may be more vulnerable to environmental hazards, the GAO found that the EPA has failed to proactively seek advice from the CHPAC and “largely disregarded key recommendations” from the committee. In the case of perchlorate, the committee emphasized the higher exposure of infants to perchlorate and greater susceptibility to serious negative effects associated with perchlorate exposure. Neither of these issues, however, was given adequate consideration in the Preliminary Determination. […]

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